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Cistern questions

Tom_133
Tom_133 Member Posts: 755
edited October 10 in THE MAIN WALL
Good morning all!

So I bought a house in June. Its a 1948 cape. It has a full basement, and a concrete foundation thats in great shape. It has a 5'Lx4'Wx5'D cistern in the basement. It is NOT our potable water source, we have a dug well producing 30 gpm. I have the shallow well pump tied to my outside sillcocks for gardening and car washing. The strange thing is the cistern has a dirt bottom and no inlet. I have very little experience with cisterns and always thought there would be a spring feeding it. My question is have any of you come across a situation where it just fills by groundwater? I am aware of a spring that is located on land that at one time belonged to this house but now is on a neighbors property, but that is deeded to a house on a different property from 1858! My roof also happens or was designed to shed a great deal of water on the soil just above the location that would soak down to the cistern. Perhaps it was never a cistern and was always a properly sized sump pump hole?
Tom
Montpelier Vt

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,200
    It possible that location has a high water table.

    I would have the water tested periodically.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,650
    Any evidence of rain gutters and down spouts that would have directed the water into the cistern?

    Have seen a down spout on the south side of the house piped thru the basement out the north side to water the garden. Also, BYW this house had a cistern or deep cellar, in the north corner below the basement floor.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,514
    Most commonly cisterns were kept fed with ground water and them topped off with rainfall. Works fine, if the water quality usually leaves something to be desired...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 755
    That makes the most sense so thanks for the help. I dont plan on using it for anything but non potable use. I also plan on gutters relatively soon.
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,650
    Our museum has in it's collection (of a lot of stuff) a hand crank dumb-waiter type of device that would lower a small platform, it had 2 shelves, down into a cistern in the basement.
    I would guess you would put perishables in jars or water tight cans and lower down into the cool water. Even if the cistern was dry, another 6' or so of depth was cooler than the basement or even the root cellar of the day.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,337
    it rubs the lotion , , ,
    BrassFinger
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,200
    Tom_133 said:
    That makes the most sense so thanks for the help. I dont plan on using it for anything but non potable use. I also plan on gutters relatively soon.
    If possible pipe them into the cistern. 
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 755
    The level of the cistern is only 18"-24" down from the top. If I put the gutters to it I would be nervous on a good rain it would overflow! Whoever put all this together had done enough to know the dangers and fail points, the basement slopes slightly all the way over to a drain in the floor that daylights out at the street!
    Cool old house, a little droopy in the middle but we lifted it a bit and straightened out some walls.

    Also, I installed an NTI FTVN150c that was a gift from the wholesaler, and a taco VT2218 that feeds the old FSA convectors, after doing all the math I am hoping my highest water temp will be 155 this winter. I also really like the Wifi capabilities of this boiler when you log in as installer you can do all the parameter changes from your computer.

    Be nice, all those parts on my boiler are used or freebies, the boiler and zone valves are the only new things on it, and the CPVC is new



    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 336
    edited October 11
    Tom, greetings from across the lake.  My house has a cistern as well.  It was supplied with water from the rain gutters, and also a hand dig well.  There is an overflow pipe near the top of the cistern that goes to a daylight drain in the corner of the basement.  Mine has a concrete floor, and is lined with clay.  It would still hold water if I had not cut a doorway in the wall.   :D
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,865
    Sounds like a legionella breeding pool :) Keep an eye on temperature 70- 130° is ideal breeding temperature.

    That being said, I lived the first 16 years of my life with an open cistern in our basement. Maybe it built up my immunity.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,514
    Cisterns around here -- New England -- almost never get warmer than about 50, as that's groundwater temperature in this area in the summer. The problem isn't Legionella, it's E. Coli. Back in the day, most people developed an immunity to the E. Coli in their local water at a very early age (or died of it... !). Not so much any more! The cistern was great for keeping things in bottles cool -- milk, cream, cider, what have you-- the gadget mentioned above for lowering bottles in was just such a use) and it was fine for washing and bathing. Often foe drinking water there was a nearby spring which was thought to be better (it often wasn't really... but at least the cows were fenced off of it...) and might even be piped in.

    Different times. Somehow most folks survived...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,200
    hot_rod said:
    Sounds like a legionella breeding pool :) Keep an eye on temperature 70- 130° is ideal breeding temperature. That being said, I lived the first 16 years of my life with an open cistern in our basement. Maybe it built up my immunity.
    The earth is roughly 50 - 55*
    Legionella is a non issue!
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,200
    Cisterns around here -- New England -- almost never get warmer than about 50, as that's groundwater temperature in this area in the summer. The problem isn't Legionella, it's E. Coli. Back in the day, most people developed an immunity to the E. Coli in their local water at a very early age (or died of it... !). Not so much any more! The cistern was great for keeping things in bottles cool -- milk, cream, cider, what have you-- the gadget mentioned above for lowering bottles in was just such a use) and it was fine for washing and bathing. Often foe drinking water there was a nearby spring which was thought to be better (it often wasn't really... but at least the cows were fenced off of it...) and might even be piped in. Different times. Somehow most folks survived...
    Mother Nature has a way of keeping things in Balance 
    DerheatmeisterGrallert
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 755
    Never thought of it as a cooler, but I like that idea. Always looking for ideas on how to keep the Double IPA's hidden from my thirsty buddies. Hey guys thanks for the feedback, its nice to have a little info on things we dont see everyday. Those old boys were pretty sharp when they built this!
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
    ratio
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,679
    Is OP certain that it just not dirt rather than bottomless?
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 755
    I havent dug down there but i used a piece of pipe and can push it 2' through the dirt. So not 100%, but close enough to feel comfortable. It also makes sense since I am located on a spring that they did it on purpose
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,829
    edited October 13

    Cisterns around here -- New England -- almost never get warmer than about 50, as that's groundwater temperature in this area in the summer. The problem isn't Legionella, it's E. Coli. Back in the day, most people developed an immunity to the E. Coli in their local water at a very early age (or died of it... !). Not so much any more! The cistern was great for keeping things in bottles cool -- milk, cream, cider, what have you-- the gadget mentioned above for lowering bottles in was just such a use) and it was fine for washing and bathing. Often foe drinking water there was a nearby spring which was thought to be better (it often wasn't really... but at least the cows were fenced off of it...) and might even be piped in.

    Different times. Somehow most folks survived...

    And the average age of death was 38 in the mid 1800s. Go back into the 1700s and you're looking at early 30s.

    Some got lucky and lived as long as most do now, but most did not back then. I'm assuming there's a long list of reasons why.

    I'll pass.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    kcopp
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,514
    Actually that life expectancy thing is really interesting. And yes, a few centuries ago, 38 sounds about right as an average. But as @ChrisJ said or implied -- there were a lot of ways to go. It turns out that if you -- male or female -- survived the first few years -- childhood diseases (typhoid, whooping cough, diphtheria, that sort of thing) you then had a few years of peace and quiet. Then, if you were a woman, there was a real threat: child-bearing. And if you were a man in that age bracket -- say 15 to 40 -- if you died, it was from injury and infections from injury. But, man or woman, if you survived that, you could pretty well expect to hit 70, and 80 was not uncommon. And that hasn't changed much in at least the last 4,000 years. The two big changes have been in childhood disease and death from infection (both injury and child-bearing).

    I suspect it's partly perception -- but people seemed to have stronger immune systems (and rural people still seem to) back then, and the diseases of excess -- heart attack, diabetes from overweight, that sort of thing -- seem to have been rarer.

    It's almost Hallowe'en -- go visit your local graveyard!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    GrallertPC7060
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,650
    From what I have heard, read and remember, the age of 65 was the magic number to receive Social Security payments to coincide with retirement because when it was established by FDR in the 30's, it sounded like Mana from heaven.

    I believe 65 was either the life expectancy or the average age of death.....you can do a lot with numbers.

    So if you collected your check you lived beyond average???
    And coincidentally many early monthly checks were $65.

    Here volunteer fire fighters are given 10K life insurance policies, 65 was the cut off age a few years ago, that number has since been raised.